Letting someone else coach your child

By Brian Gotta

Those of us who have coached our own children in youth sports have done so for a variety of reasons. We’ve enjoyed the fun of competition, the time we were able to spend with our kids, and we wanted to ensure they had the best possible experience. But if our youngsters continue to play long enough, there comes a time for all of us when we must turn over the reigns to someone else and transition from the field to the bleachers. This can sometimes be difficult to do.

Some parents give coaching a shot the first year their kids are involved in sports, but then step away and let others do it. They either didn’t enjoy it as much as they thought they would, realized they didn’t have the time, or felt that there might be other coaches more qualified.

Other parents don’t volunteer initially but, conversely, are disappointed by the level of instruction they are seeing and throw their hat in the ring feeling they could do a better job.

And then there are moms and dads who jump in and coach the very first peewee season and continue coaching year after year as their children get older.

In all of these situations however, there is a day when we must decide to let our kids play for someone else. It might not happen until they finally get to high school. Or, maybe we have always coached our children in a particular sport but they want to play a different one that we’re not ready or able to get involved with. In any event, there are bound to be some feelings of anxiety as we give up the control to someone else. And because we have coached, we’ll be watching this new dynamic with a different lens than most parents in the stands.

It would not be uncommon for us to find fault with new coaches, to believe we could be doing things better and question their ability and motivations. And while those feelings are very natural, it is important not to share them with your child. It is in the player’s best interest to respect his coaches and if he knows you’re questioning their ability, it will reflect in your child’s attitude.

On the other hand, because of your experience, it is also possible you might show more empathy towards the new coach. You might be less likely to complain about playing time or positions because you understand that every player can’t be on the field at the same time and that these decisions are tough to make.

This outlook may be difficult to embrace since you’ve been used to managing your child’s playing time and it is now in someone else’s hands. But it is important for you to be willing to give up that control. Once you pass the coaching duties on to someone else, whether it be another volunteer or a paid professional, the best course of action is to let them do their job. Just as you didn’t appreciate any “advice” when you were in charge, the new coach probably doesn’t want to hear your suggestions either. And your child will grow more if he knows you’re not always going to be there to ensure his comfort and success.

If you’ve been coaching for a long time, it isn’t easy to decide when to step away. And once you do relinquish the responsibility, it can be challenging to accept a different style and to watch moves being made with which you don’t necessarily agree. But take a deep breath. If you look for the positives and understand that the person now running the team shares your same goals, you may find that the view from the bleachers isn’t such a bad one after all.

Brian Gotta is President of CoachDeck LLC (www.coachdeck.com). He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com.

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